What is the best response to a 1NT opening bid when responder has 0 HCP and 5 clubs and you have agreed with partner to use Staymans?

4 Answers 4


Pass. 1NT undoubled when opponents likely have the values for game is unlikely to be bad. If your left hand opponent doubles and it passes around to you you can bid 2C.

  • I clubs likely to be better?
    – Taemyr
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 9:49
  • @Taemyr yes. With 0 hcp, your hand is almost certainly worth zero tricks in no trumps. In clubs, you're likely to be worth two (the fourth and fifth rounds of trumps) and may be worth another trick from a finesse that a trump entry makes possible
    – ruds
    Commented Mar 28, 2019 at 18:19
  • The reason you have to pass initially is that your choice is between 1NT and 3C, not 2; even if clubs are likely to play two tricks better, you're two tricks higher.
    – Mycroft
    Commented May 9, 2021 at 16:12

Unless you have, say, five clubs and eight diamonds, you have nothing to show partner and should Pass. Given that RHO has passed, LHO will almost certainly bid and give your partner the chance to reassess the situation; if not, partner is likely to go down in 1NT, but get a better score than if the opponents made a fat contract.

There is, of course, the possibility that you are playing a system where 1NT is forcing (I can't think of any offhand, but no doubt there are some), in which case you follow the rules of the system, and discover where it gets you (and probably why such systems are rare).


Like everyone here, I say pass with the hand given ((332)5 or the like). However, in general:

  • as ruds points out in a comment to his answer, a 0HCP hand is likely to be zero tricks in NT, and a 5-card suit is frequently one or two tricks as trumps. Also, even one entry to potentially take a finesse can make a huge difference from "playing it out of your hand".
  • the standard "Stayman and transfers" system over 1NT allows you to play 2 of a Major (2H or 2S), but not 2 of a minor (you have to go to 3C or 3D).
  • so, with almost all 5-card major suits (particularly bad hands with 5-card major suits), you should transfer into the suit. At "worst", you break even (if it's only worth one trick), and frequently you're at least one trick to the good.
  • but with a minor, you need to be 2 tricks better in the suit simply to break even (3 tricks better to show a profit), and a 5-card suit isn't enough.
  • however, a 6-card suit is - it's one more long trick! - especially with shortness somewhere (limiting losers, early entries to lead from the weak hand). So I would play in clubs (however that's done in your system) with a 1=3=3=6 zero-count.

Another argument for transferring to the major with effectively any 5-card suit is only really relevant at Matchpoints - if both 2M and 1NT make, +110 beats +90. Caveats:

  • with a zero count, you don't expect to make either contract. But with 5 or 6...
  • of course, 1NT+1 (+120) beats 2M. So again, "usually" the trump suit gains you a trick. But not always.
  • At IMP scoring, this is basically a wash. As always, take the safer contract (which is usually playing in trumps).
  • At rubber, a 60 leg is slightly better than a 40 leg (and with 40 on, 2M is game where 1NT is not). Here, you don't have to worry about 1NT making overtricks; they go above the line and "don't count". But again, you have to make whichever contract you're in to score.
  • I play a system where I can get out in 2D; but because that doesn't have this advantage (2D= is the same +90 as 1NT, and 1NT+1 beats 2D+1), we don't use it unless it's obviously safer.

Note, there's another kind of hand that will bid over 1NT with zero - a three-suited (ideally 4=4=4=1 or 4=4=5=0) hand with short clubs. Bid Stayman, and pass any response. Again, almost certainly you have a 7+ fit (unless partner's 3=3=2=5, oops), likely an 8 card fit, and your hand will be worth tricks (if just from ruffing clubs).


You should pass.

If you feel that 1NT should be forcing, consider using the Jacoby Transfers to show 5-cards or longer in response to a 1NT opening. You could force partner to bid 3C and pass on that, though most partnerships will agree that trying to play 1NT in this case is probably better.

In this case, your partnership has at most 17 HCP, so your opponents have at least 23 points. Let them figure out if and what they want to play.

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